Morgan N. Weiland is an attorney and PhD candidate at Stanford University specializing in speech, press, and technology law and ethics. She created the first joint degree program between Stanford Law School, where she received her J.D. in 2015, and Stanford’s Communication Department, where she is a Ph.D. candidate.
She is a Junior Affiliate Scholar at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet & Society and a graduate student fellow at Stanford's McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. Weiland will be clerking for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals during the 2018-19 term. She is admitted to the California Bar.
Her scholarship, legal practice, and policy work sit at the intersection of First Amendment doctrine, networked media, and technological change. Please visit her website for her CV and publications, and follow her on Twitter @morganweiland.
Nailing down the definitive literature on First Amendment expressive freedoms is a tricky task. What’s the consensus among scholars about the classics? Even more complex is figuring out what emerging scholarship on the intersection of speech and press freedoms with new media technologies will have a lasting impact.
A few weeks ago, after I published a blog post raising the question of what might happen to CDA 230 when internet intermediaries like Facebook invoke First Amendment protections – which civil liberties lawyers’ were calling on Facebook to do in the wake of the controversy over its trending newsfeed – I was fortunate enough to have a sustained email exchange with UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh.
Though much attention is focused on the court’s vindication of the FCC’s reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II, the court also ensured significant protection of public interest regulations from spurious First Amendment arguments.
In the wake of recent reporting of Facebook’s alleged liberal curation of its trending newsfeed and Sen. John Thune’s subsequent letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking answers about these allegations and demanding a meeting, constitutional scholars, press advocates, and civil libertarians have mobilized the First Amendment in the company’s defense. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Sophia Cope argued that the letter constitutes “an improper intrusion into editorial freedom,” and Stanford Law lecturer Thomas Rubin wrote in Slate that “we should be concerned about this federal intrusion into an independent organization’s editorial process.”
After a year of debates and a month before the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) rulemaking on network neutrality, the GOP has finally joined the party. Through a draft bill released late last week, congressional Republicans have taken a step in the direction of supporting network neutrality. That’s a good thing, and moves them closer to the existing consensus. Roughly four million Americans submitted comments to the FCC calling for real network neutrality rules over the past year, and polls show that both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly support a ban on fast lanes.
Imagine that you are participating in a protest on a university campus. The campus police ask everyone to leave. Some protestors refuse to move, and suddenly they are doused with pepper spray by campus police. You pull out your cell phone and start recording, asking protestors to describe what happened. After some editing, you post the video to YouTube. But according to the two federal shield laws being considered by Congress, you likely would not qualify as a journalist—and consequently would not enjoy the right to protect your sources.
"Facebook's highly personalized algorithmic curation of its users' newsfeeds falls in a legal gray area with respect to CDA 230. As you know, CDA 230 provides immunity for "interactive computer services," drawing a line between that category and "information content providers." But it's not entirely clear when the former becomes the latter; in other words, it's not clear when an intermediary engages in enough editing of third-party content that it becomes an "information content provider" and loses CDA 230 immunity.
"Barbara van Schewick and Morgan Weiland detailed the bill’s holes in The Stanford Law Review, ultimately calling it “network neutrality in name only.”
"Though the proposal offers many concessions to net neutrality advocates, critics maintain that it still fails to uphold important net neutrality principles. According to an analysis published on Tuesday by Barbara van Schewick, director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, the legislation “provides network neutrality in name only.”
"The Republican bill, sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), is "network neutrality in name only," according to the legal scholar and net-neutrality supporter Barbara van Schewick."
Attorney and scholar Morgan Weiland ’06 will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation on Friday, April 22 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. A leader in the study of the law and policy around the internet and other emerging technologies, Weiland has been active in policy debates surrounding telecommunications, mass surveillance, and network neutrality.
Carleton convocations are free and open to the public. They are also recorded and archived for online viewing at go.carleton.edu/convo/.
From the First Amendment to Net Neutrality. How Media Regulation Affects What We Say
Does the FCC's recent ruling on net neutrality promise more equal media access? Or will it lead to years of divisive litigation? FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will discuss implications of the new rules and the role of media regulation in creating a free press; Victor Pickard of the University of Pennsylvania will look at how media regulation choices in the 1940s affect us today; Stanford's Morgan Weiland will explain what the proposed federal shield law means for journalists.
Morgan Weiland delivers Convocation at Carleton College entitled "Network Neutrality: A Perspective from the Frontline in the Battle for Free Speech in the Digital Era" on April 22, 2016.